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B.C. hotelier reverses courses, changes condo development back into a hotel

Kamloops hotel revived after COVID hibernation
A rendering of the proposed Hyatt Place hotel development, planned for a site on Rogers Way.

A local developer says impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic initially forced his company to abandon plans to build a new Aberdeen hotel in favour of a condo development — but a strong industry rebound has prompted another pivot.

On Tuesday, Kamloops council will consider an application from Mundi Construction Ltd. to rezone a property at 1270 Rogers Way from multi-family residential to commercial to make way for a six-storey Hyatt Place hotel.

Ron Mundi, developer and hotelier, said he’s excited to be returning to the original plans, noting it's the right fit for the site. He said he’s “fully confident” the property will do well in Kamloops.

“Hyatt is a really good high-end brand. We own the Coast Hotel next door, but we feel we need that level [of] hotel," he said.

"We have a convention centre, we always have a convention and people travelling from everywhere, so we thought the Hyatt is the right fit in this market."

A city staff report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting said in September of 2019, the former council approved a development permit for a hotel on the site, which is located directly west of the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre.

The report said due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the property was rezoned in October 2021 to permit a 104-unit residential development instead.

“When COVID hit, the hotel industry — there was a stop there,” Mundi said.

He said at the time, amid a number of pandemic-related restrictions, no one knew when hotel travellers might return so the company decided to pivot the Rogers Way project to a residential building.

“We don't want to do that, but we don't have a choice at that time to not make that decision," he said. "So we thought, OK, you know what, we’ll build an apartment building.”

But in the last year and a half, Mundi said, conditions have changed — the hotel industry is now doing “really well” across Canada and in Kamloops. With about 30 years of experience in the hotel business, Mundi said the company decided to stick with its main area of expertise and go back to its original plan.

While the city report indicated rising constructions costs contributed to the decision to re-establish the site as a hotel, Mundi told Castanet Kamloops this wasn’t the case, adding interest rates didn’t play a factor either.

The new rezoning and development permit application before council is for a 157-room hotel. Mundi said new plans will also include a restaurant and bar, a pool and an exercise room — as well as a two-storey underground parkade, which is already nearly completed.

He said provided the new permits are issued by the city, he expects the hotel to be completed in 12 to 14 months.

On Tuesday, council will be asked to consider holding a public hearing for the zoning bylaw amendment necessary for the hotel to rise.